Nonnegotiables

Photo by JJ Thompson on Unsplash

Apparently there are “many sides” contributing to our problems.

Since the election, I’ve been thinking about how to best communicate with at least some of those sides.

I’ve read and seen that discussing facts won’t do the trick. 

Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel

That might be because liberals may process information a little differently from the way conservatives do. I have no idea how legit the studies are that purport that, but, if we do process information differently, how can we possibly ever get to the same answer?

Rather than arguing facts and opinions formed based on the interpretation of those facts, I’ve read we might have more success at achieving common ground if we discuss our values.

In an online lecture I listened to, the instructor suggested the first step in communicating our values is to define our nonnegotiables.

When I heard that, it immediately brought to mind a dinner-time conversation we had as a family years ago. One of the girls (I forget which one to be honest) talked about how her class had worked together to come up with nonnegotiable rules for the classroom. At the time, she was in the first or second grade. I remember being impressed that she knew the word “nonnegotiable” which she struggled to pronounce. I also remember being impressed with the concept that it implied: Some rules might be okay to bend at times, but some – a basic set that everyone agreed upon – were not okay to bend at all.

And I thought, yes, just like those 7-year-olds, we need to come to agreement as to what is nonnegotiable. What is just not okay.

So here are a few nonnegotiables I have:

  • Symbols that represent absolute atrocities against humanity – such as a swastika or a white hood or a confederate flag – should not be used by anyone.
  • No group (e.g. KKK, neo-nazis, white supremacists) should incite violence and threaten people.
  • Acts of terrorism, such as intentionally driving a car into a group of bystanders, should be quickly and loudly denounced regardless of the skin color of the terrorist.

In future posts, I’ll work on identifying more of my nonnegotiables and values.

However, it strikes me in looking at my initial list, I bet the list the second graders came up with was probably a lot more sophisticated in comparison.

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